Liverpool prepare to go head-to-head with Napoli this evening in the Champions League having failed to record victory in their last two games, and they will be desperate to put that right in Italy against top quality opposition.
Chelsea proved to be stubborn opponents last week for Jurgen Klopp’s side as they were dumped out of the Carabao Cup before they needed to rely on a late moment of magic from Daniel Sturridge to avoid their first league defeat of the season. The pair of results served to remind the Reds that they won’t have it all their own way this year after an early run of form evoked plenty of discussion regarding their title credentials.
Liverpool’s Champions League bow against Paris Saint-Germain proved that they possess the necessary enthusiasm for the big occasion as they refused to respect one of Europe’s biggest football clubs at Anfield.
A trip to Italy tonight will provide a different challenge altogether against a side who are lacking the superstar talents which the French champions can boast in abundance.
The likes of Roberto Insigne, Piotr Zielinski and Dries Mertens are certainly individuals who need respect but, unlike Neymar, they are team players who are willing to work relentlessly for the team and Liverpool will need to bide their time for opportunities against Carlo Ancelotti’s well-drilled outfit.
Inevitably, though, Napoli will open up as the game progresses and chances will arrive for Liverpool on the counter-attack and, if Sadio Mane (valued at £63 million by Transfermarkt) is able to rediscover his early season goal-scoring touch in which saw him bag 4 goals from his first 4 league fixtures, the Reds will have every chance of taking a huge step towards qualification.
In tightly-fought European fixtures results hinge on the finest margins; playing an incisive ball into the channel at the right moment and showing composure in-front of goal can be the difference between 1 and 3 points.
The Senegalese international is simply unplayable when he is running at full pelt with the ball at his feet, and if Liverpool can work some space inside the final-third on the breakaway then he will naturally have at least one opportunity to find the back of the net.
With Mo Salah struggling to emulate the form which saw him become an Anfield legend in the space of just one season during the 2017/18 campaign, the stage is set for Mane to combat the Egyptian’s dip in form and steal the headlines against Napoli tonight.
Liverpool already have three points on the board and if they manage to clinch another three tonight then they will put themselves in an incredibly commanding position to reach the last-sixteen with four fixtures left to play.
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